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June 24, 2017

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Unable to watch CPBL games on cable TV, fans express anger

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Taiwanese baseball fans yesterday expressed anger because they will be unable to watch the upcoming local professional baseball season games on cable television for the first time in 17 years.

Their reaction came amid a media rights company's Thursday announcement that they will partner with EDGE Sports Channel (博斯運動頻道) in broadcasting the Chinese Professional Baseball League's (CPBL, 中華職棒) upcoming 25th-year season games that will kick off today.

Making the announcement at a press conference on Thursday afternoon, MP & Silva, an international media rights company that won the broadcasting rights for league games for the next six years with a landmark NT$2.1 billion deal this January, said the company decided to work with EDGE channel on a two-year deal instead of with Videoland Sports Channel (緯來體育台), a cable TV channel and broadcaster of CPBL for the past 17 years.

During the press conference, MP & Silva apologized for being unable to reach a deal with the cable TV station due to limited time for negotiations.

It, however, will not rule out the possibility of working with Videoland in the future, an MP & Silva representative said.

Before the deal, local Videoland was the sole broadcaster responsible for producing and broadcasting the CPBL games since 1997.

The decision means that most Taiwanese viewers and CPBL fans will be unable to watch CPBL season games on the local cable TV network that reaches nearly 60 percent of Taiwanese households.

Subscribers to Chunghwa Telecom Co.'s (中華電信) multimedia-on-demand (MOD) digital TV service can watch the EDGE channel, but MOD only has a reach of around 1.5 million Taiwanese households. The channel is also available on very few cable TV networks around the country.

CPBL fans can also watch the league's games at the newly launched online CPBLTV that is currently free to watch but will start to charge its viewers later this year.

The latest decision has drawn criticism from many Taiwanese fans. Netizens said the announcement would make it very inconvenient for them to watch CPBL games in the future.

Even for those subscribers to MOD, one still has to pay extra money just to subscribe to the EDGE channel, adding an extra cost burden for CPBL fans, they argued.

Meanwhile, in a released statement, the Videoland Channel on Thursday expressed regret over being unable to broadcast the CPBL season this year.

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